The Rapid Rise of Supermarkets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 2003
Posted: 24 May 2011
Date Written: December 1, 2003
Supermarkets are traditionally viewed by development economists, policymakers, and practitioners as the rich world’s place to shop. The three regions discussed here have the great majority of the poor on the planet. But supermarkets are no longer just niche players for rich consumers in the capital cities of the countries in these regions. The rapid rise of supermarkets in these regions in the past 5-10 years has transformed agrifood markets – at different rates and depths across regions and countries. Many of those transformations present great challenges – even exclusion – for small farms, processing and distribution firms, but also potentially great opportunities. Development models, policy and programs need to adapt to this radical change.
This brief article describes this transformation of agrifood systems in Africa, Asia (excluding Japan), and Latin America. First, we describe the traditional retail and wholesale system in the midst of which emerged modern food retailing and its procurement system. Second, we discuss the determinants of and patterns in the diffusion of supermarkets in the three regions. Third, we discuss the evolution of procurement systems of those supermarkets, and consequences for agrifood systems. At the end, we hint at emerging implications for farms and firms in the region.
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